Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Hamilton greyhound trainer Tony Harding still remembers that morning back in early 2015 when he was at a trial track with former Tahara trainer Bernie Rogers and how he came to end up with Jen Shen.
“I was helping him at the trials, the then unnamed Jen Shen in the trailer and doing a great job of trashing her compartment. That was the last straw for Bernie who went off his head, said I could have the bloody thing and promptly signed her over to me,” Harding said.
And now, 4½ years later, the January 2014 daughter of Fear Zafonic and Ren Shen will be attempting to break a 78-race losing streak when she lines up tomorrow for what will be her 200th race start in the Gambier Vets Stake (400 metres) at Tara Raceway’s time-graded meeting.
It’s fair to say that Jen Shen’s success on the track has been occasional – three wins and 12 minor placings – the 73-year-old Harding, forever the optimist, hoping for a milestone win to follow on from last week’s meeting when he had successfully declared his $41 chance Cindy La Moment as the winner of the middle-distance event.
Jen Shen’s first race start was at Ballarat over 390 metres almost four years ago but it would take a further 30 starts before she won her maiden at Tara Raceway over 512 metres in 31.09 seconds.
Then, another 38 starts for the next win to come – at $41 – when she beat the more than handy Berry Bling over 600 metres on October 28, 2016 and 49 more runs before defeating Stampy Longnose in a heat of the Iron Dog (400 m) on September 17, 2017.
So, while Jen Shen lines up tomorrow from box eight, a draw she’s never won from – and on a two-year losing streak – rest assured her well-travelled trainer will still be keen to talk up the chances of his dog as she approaches a milestone that is rarely reached in racing.
One SA greyhound that did reach a significant milestone was Green Lizard who raced on 223 occasions before being retired at just over seven years of age.
Named after a poker machine, Green Lizard was by Colonial Warrior, a winner of 24 races on SA tracks, out of Dixie Land who won her last race at Port Lincoln over 306 metres.
Whelped in March 1997, Green Lizard was trained in SA’s north at Crystal Brook by local legend Trevor “Swami” Hendry whose association with the dog from a racing point of view commenced in May 1999 and concluded five years later with a record of 64 wins, 44 seconds and 31 thirds at Angle Park, Gawler, Strathalbyn, Barmera, Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla.